Japan begins vaccinations targeting medical workers, New Zealand to lower COVID-19 alert level in Auckland

Japan on Wednesday began administering its first COVID-19 vaccines to medical workers, while New Zealand will lower its COVID-19 alert level in Auckland, in the latest developments of the COVID-19 pandemic in Asia-Pacific region.

Japan’s first inoculations used the vaccine developed by U.S. pharmaceutical firm Pfizer and German partner BioNTech at the National Hospital Organization Tokyo Medical Center.

New Zealand will lower the COVID-19 alert level in its largest city Auckland on midnight Wednesday after a three-day lockdown following five community cases found over the past four days.

Auckland will move to alert level 2 from level 3, and the rest of New Zealand will go down to level 1 from level 2, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told a press conference.

New Zealand reported three new cases of COVID-19, including two in the community and one in managed isolation.

Indonesia began the second phase of its massive COVID-19 vaccination program targeting 38.5 million people including market traders, senior citizens, educators and religious figures.

Elected representatives, government officials, police and military personnel, security guards, journalists as well as workers in hospitals, transportation offices and tourism industries are also included.

The COVID-19 cases in Indonesia increased by 9,687 in the past 24 hours to 1,243,646, with the death toll adding by 192 to 33,788, the Health Ministry said.

The Maldives has inoculated over 50,000 people against COVID-19, local media reported. Data from the Health Protection Agency (HPA) showed that 6,230 people were vaccinated on Monday, raising the country’s total number of vaccinated to 50,047.

Thailand confirmed 175 new cases of COVID-19 infection, mostly domestic, according to the Center for the COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA). Of Wednesday’s new cases, 168 were domestic infections while seven others referred to imported cases, CCSA spokesman Taweesin Visanuyothin told a press conference.

The Department of Health (DOH) of the Philippines reported 1,184 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total in the Southeast Asian country to 553,424.

India’s COVID-19 tally rose to 10,937,320 on Wednesday as 11,610 new cases were registered during the past 24 hours, said the latest data from the federal health ministry. The death toll mounted to 155,913 with 100 new deaths.

South Korea reported 621 more cases of COVID-19 compared to 24 hours ago, raising the total number of infections to 84,946. The daily caseload was up from 457 in the previous day, rising above 600 for 38 days since Jan. 10.

The Australian state of Victoria will emerge from a snap five-day lockdown after recording zero new COVID-19 cases. Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed most of the restrictions will be eased from 11:59 p.m. Wednesday.